How to Use Emotions to Make Rational Decisions

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Insights, Motivational, News

This article covers emotional decision making, including how to use your emotions to make rational decisions in the heat of the moment.

How to Use your Emotions to Make Rational Decisions, Marshall Connects

One of our biggest challenges, without a doubt, is using our emotions to make rational decisions. Once we recognize that emotions guide all we do, life gets easier.

Life is all about choices, and with those choices comes making the best rational decisions.

Emotion & Decision Making: Using Your Emotions to Make Rational Decisions

The Influence of Our Emotions on Decision Making

Emotions play a significant role in our life; they guide every decision we make. Therefore, carefully managing them is critical to our success. Developing your emotional intelligence by learning to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions will inevitably change how you make decisions. 

(Would you like to learn more about developing your emotional intelligence? Visit this post next)

Focusing on our emotions’ influence on our decision-making is significant because, in the snap of a finger, they can take over and direct us to say or do things that are not rational, which we may regret.

Ask yourself: Have you ever made a hasty decision and regretted it immediately? Most of us have been in a situation where our emotions took over, and we realized afterward that our behaviour or judgment was not rational.

Emotional hijacking is quite common. It’s likely a lot more common than you think.

Avoid Being Emotionally Hijacked

It can happen in a matter of seconds at work.

You get emotionally hijacked when a colleague disappoints you, and you lash out harshly instead of taking the time to share your feelings calmly. This is when emotion and decision-making can be a dangerous combination.

After seeing the shock and hurt on your colleague's face, you're embarrassed, and you regret your actions and decision to act impulsively. You wish you behaved more rationally because you're aware of the significant amount of time it will take to repair this relationship. It can quickly happen at home as well. Sometimes a negative move will set us off, especially if we're tired and having a challenging day.

(There are many ways you can handle an emotional hijacking when it takes place. One being a mindfulness breathing practice you can find right here)

It becomes easier to understand and manage your emotions to reduce emotional hijacking as you become more self-aware.

(For more strategies for minimizing and managing emotional hijacking, take a look at this blog post next)

Moods play a vital role in our lives and decision-making; they are generally defined in two ways: positive or negative. Interestingly, moods are basically long-term emotional states that are not the same as emotions.

Even good moods can affect how rational we behave.

How many times have you purchased something that you thought you needed or couldn't live without in your personal life? You realized later, not only was the purchase not in the budget, you really didn't need it. I have let a positive mood get me into trouble, especially when shopping! When you're happy and excited, it's easy to do something you may regret later if you are unaware of your emotions.

Making Rational Decisions

Here's the thing, with practice, you can make rational decisions. The next time you find making a decision challenging, try this:

Create a mental or physical "emotions vs. reason list."

If you're creating a physical list, start by placing “emotions” on the left side of the page and ask yourself what your emotions are telling you to do. Place “reason/rationale” on the right side of the page and ask yourself what your reason tells you to do. Trying this exercise will help you clear your mind and use the facts to review your feelings in an organized, rational manner to make the best decision.

Remember, learning to recognize, understand, and manage your feelings is a game-changer. Take the time to get to know your emotions and use them to make more rational decisions. Be sure to check out many more motivational blogs here. If you would like to take an emotional intelligence assessment, check this out. Not only can you take an emotional intelligence assessment quiz, but you can also learn about coaching and resources for improving it!

This article was originally published on September 18, 2018, and has been updated (September 2021).

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